Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day Antics

I'm breaking into my regularly scheduled posting (which was supposed to be about moving the gazebo) to report on Mother's Day happenings.  

When Joel was a little boy, he brought home a rock from the woods across the road for me as a gift for Mother's Day.  He was so sweet in his little red boots and baseball cap, towing the rusty old red wagon behind him.  It took every bit of strength he had to haul the wagon as the rock was quite large for a boy of four.  I really do not know how he managed to load the stone by himself.  I so wish I had a photo of him with the stone back then, but looking back, the moment is somehow dimmed when a camera is involved if you know what I mean.  I keep the memory safe in my heart.

Thus began a lifelong tradition of rocks for Mother Day. Every year I look forward to seeing his newest acquisition.  And with no further ado, here is the 2017 Mother's Day Rock of the Year:

Carl, directing traffic with his hot pink tennis racket.  (No, we haven't taken up a new pastime, the racket is a handheld bug zapper.)
 We had a home all picked out for the new rock, just move the pine needles over and..........
Unload the rock from the truck......
And there it is, safe and sound in the garden; one more memory to cherish.  

 (And I still don't know how he loaded that rock by himself.)
 Joel's Mother Day festivities? Activities? Weren't over yet; at my request, he donned chainsaw attire and we sallied forth to take down three ailing Colorado Blue Spruce trees.

 It was a very melancholy job for all three of us; Joel helped plant these trees as tiny seedlings over thirty years ago.  Sadly, blue spruce has not done well here; they were gorgeous up until they were about twenty-five years old and then began to decline.  
The problem could be they were planted too close, it could be fungus-related, but in any event, it is once again time for a change.

As renowned plantsman Adrian Bloom said in his book, 'Gardening with Conifers', once a plant has outlived its usefulness, take the opportunity to introduce something new.  By the end of the weekend, we ended up cutting down six trees and now we have a vast, open space.  I have some ideas on what to do next, but Carl's not playing along.  (More coming up on what we do next!)

After we destroyed the trees, we were back to working on the Pachyberm remodeling which was begun last fall before the septic tank replacement antics.  Yes, I know, we should to stick to one job and see it through.   

Dave stopped home for Mother's Day on Sunday and was recruited to drive tractor for stone moving. 

  Carl's sister Mary and her husband, Tom, also stopped in on Sunday and were helping us carry branches and move stones and on Saturday, Ann was weeding and hauling branches, too. 

 I think my sons are happy Mother's Day only comes once a year, visiting us is risky business.  

My love to David, Joel and Abby and Audrey for a wonderful Mother's Day!  I am truly blessed.

Next up: What happened to the gazebo?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What's Next? Part 18: Gazebo

Here it is, May 9 already and I'm far behind on posting about what's been happening here.  I find it hard to believe Mom has been gone for over a month already.  Going up to check on her house has been difficult for me lately; seeing her painting station empty when I walk into the kitchen hits me hard every time.  So many memories.  On Sunday I went up to fetch the tractor from her machine shed and when I rode by her kitchen window on the 574, I automatically waved.  Of course, Mom was not there to return my greeting; old habits die hard. 

However, Mom would not want me to wallow in grief, I know this.  So we must move forward the best we know how.  The thank you cards have been written, I finally finished up with them last week.  I have had several meetings with lawyers and bank personnel, and I've been knee deep in estate settling issues.  Sometimes I feel like the kids in the Charlie Brown cartoons when the adults are talking, it all starts to sound like, "Blah, blah, blah...." so from now on, Carl will be coming along with me so we can absorb what is being said.  This will all take some time to deal with.

 Being spring, there isn't much time to think about anything right now, the garden is taking over and making me run in circles like always.   Our first garden walk is mere weeks away and we have to get a move on!  The spring flowers are lasting much longer than usual this year since we've had cold weather.

'Golden Shadows' dogwood

Dutchman's Breetches

Rewinding our past history here at the garden, we have to fix the backyard somehow.  Remember the septic installation?  I sure do, it's a sore point every time I look out the window.

The backyard.  Look at the lonely tulip.
 Now that we have a blank slate in the backyard, we decided to do some major remodeling as long as everything is torn up.  The gazebo was the first order of business. 

But first, another trip down Memory Lane:  When I was a kid, my favorite place to sit on the farm was on top of the feed room roof between the two forty-foot tall silos.  I was up about ten feet off the ground and the breeze between the silos kept the mosquitoes at bay.  At night after chores, it was heavenly sitting up there, watching the cows go out to pasture and seeing the stars come out.

I never did take a picture of the concrete slab between the two silos, but here is a picture of the barn before it was destroyed by a tornado in 1981.   If the ladder wasn't available, I would often climb over the milk house roof (the little white building) to get to my perch.  Those were the days...I missed having my aerial getaway.

We built the gazebo in 1982 when we were 24 years old.  We didn't know much about building anything; ok, scratch that; I didn't know much about building anything---Carl had the knowledge I sorely lacked.  We both loved the idea of a gazebo being a sheltered area to view the garden.  There I am, below, hoisting a can of Orange Crush.    (Or is it Mountain Dew?  I never was a beer drinker.)  The cornfield behind me is now the Quarry Garden.

However, most gazebos are at ground level or only slightly raised.  Carl wanted to recreate my silo perch for me and also thought it would be interesting to have our gazebo up in the air so we could have a view of the gardens.  As if building the gazebo itself wasn't hard enough, Carl added a small observation deck (the part I'm sitting on in the photo) and a hinged top roof so we could take photos from the peak.
Who wouldn't want to enjoy the view of this garden?! 

At the time, our 'garden' consisted of a circle of white marble stone chips around the septic tank vent, but hey, we were young.  (The shingles are shading the spruce tree seedlings.)  This area now is the Quarry pond, but you have to give me an 'E' for Effort, ok?  The four circles held tea roses (not one remains in my garden today) and you have to love the tulips surrounding the pipe sticking out of the ground.  Very classy.

Yes, we had a lot of work to do.  Looking back, we never knew what we were in for.

The picture above was taken eight years later in 1990.  Carl, age 32 and Joel, age 4 are tilling the trees which are now behind the Quarry.  The pile of rocks in the background is the Formal Garden now.

But anyway, moving forward; the gazebo gradually blended into its surroundings.  

 This was taken in 2005, by then we had a little more gardening know-how.

Still, we were never very happy with the gazebo on 'stilts'.  We'd added the small deck and a staircase in 1988 but rarely used the structure.  I would go up there in the summer when it rained to take in the glorious sight and smells of a good, soaking rainfall, but truth be told, the gazebo never was the old concrete silo perch of my youth.  

As time went on, the gazebo was growing older and a bit wobbly.   We were having doubts about the pressure-treated posts buried four feet in the ground as they were starting to rot.  We had a wedding party come for pictures a few years ago and when it rained, the entire group crammed themselves into the gazebo.  Carl and I stood in the rain observing the young people jostling around and I muttered under my breath, "Oh, no.  We're gonna get sued."  Luckily, the gazebo held up.  But the seeds of its impending demise were already planted.  We had to do something about the gazebo.

Fast forward to November 2016 and the septic tank replacment:

 Yes, it is now time for a change.  

Carl and I stood around last fall and kicked the clods of dirt around.  

"I wonder how the backyard would look if we moved the gazebo?" I said.

"Move the gazebo?  I don't know how that would work," Carl said.

"The posts are rotting and the thing is kind of dangerous.  Besides, when's the last time you sat up there?    If the gazebo was removed, we could put the big circus tent up for the booyah parties in its place.  And in the meantime, in keeping with your wish to downsize the garden 50% (I knew I'd get his attention then) we could simply plant lawn where the gazebo was."

I think I had him at downsize.  

More to come......